Six of the Best Varieties of Australian Wines


Australia’s wine industry is celebrated for its diversity, with over 100 grape varieties cultivated across the country. However, six of the best varieties of Australian wines varieties stand out for their popularity and the distinctive flavors they bring to the table. These varieties are not only foundational to Australia’s wine heritage but also continue to be among the most sought-after by wine enthusiasts both domestically and internationally.

Shiraz leads as Australia’s most beloved grape, known for its versatility and the range of styles it produces—from everyday wines to collectible vintages. Regions like the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale are renowned for their robust Shiraz wines, characterized by dark cherry, plum, and chocolate notes. In contrast, cooler areas produce lighter, spicier Shiraz, highlighting the variety’s adaptability.

Cabernet Sauvignon, famed for its intense flavor and aging potential, ranks as the third most planted variety in Australia. It’s celebrated for producing bold wines, especially from regions like Coonawarra and Margaret River, with typical flavors of blackberry, cherry, and mint.

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Pinot Noir has gained traction for its silky texture and compatibility with food, thriving in cooler climates such as Tasmania and the Mornington Peninsula. This grape is essential for sparkling wine production and is cherished for its cherry, strawberry, and raspberry notes.

Chardonnay, the most planted white variety, showcases the vast stylistic range achievable within Australia, from unoaked to rich, creamy versions. The evolution of Australian Chardonnay from the heavily oaked styles of the past to more restrained, elegant wines reflects the industry’s adaptability.

Riesling, a long-standing variety in Australia, is acclaimed for its bright, aromatic profile, with the best examples coming from cooler regions. Australian Rieslings are mostly dry and known for their citrus, apple, and honey flavors.

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Semillon, particularly from the Hunter Valley, is unique for its aging potential, transforming from a fresh, citrusy wine to a richer, honeyed one over time. This variety, often blended with Sauvignon Blanc in regions like Margaret River, adds a distinctive touch to Australia’s wine portfolio with its citrus, honey, and apple notes.

Australia’s wine diversity, anchored by these six popular varieties, reflects the country’s rich viticultural history and the wide range of climates and terroirs it encompasses. From the powerful Shiraz to the delicate Semillon, Australian wines offer a palette of flavors and styles that cater to every taste.

Grape Varieties of Australian Wines By Acreage Planted (2018)*

Shiraz (Syrah), 40,000 ha
Cabernet Sauvignon, 25,000 ha
Chardonnay, 21,000 ha
Merlot, 8,000 ha
Sauvignon Blanc,6,000 ha
Pinot Noir, 5,000 ha
Sémillon, 5,000 ha
Pinot Gris, 4,000 ha
Riesling,3,000 ha
Muscat of Alexandria, 2,000 ha

(*source Wiki)

Check out our introduction to Australia’s Wine Regions

Check out an Alphabetical List of Australia’s Wines

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